Feelings exist in our physical bodies. Our bodies know what we feel before our minds do. Our minds learned to deny what the body knows.
In the first stage of Core Belief Restructuring we focus on creating self-love and self-acceptance in the place of shame. Once you learn to create enough self-acceptance, and transcend shame and fear, the next thing that we want to achieve is the ability to feel feelings. We want to feel emotions in our body.
This is another big hurdle, because there is the same pattern with emotions as there is with shame, meaning there is an avoidance pattern. We tend to avoid our emotions. That’s human nature and agrees with Freud’s “pleasure principle”: we all tend, whenever possible, to avoid pain and seek pleasure.
Addiction is all about escaping reality. Avoidance. Denial. Facing reality means facing the reality of your emotions without escaping, avoiding or denying. The antidote to addiction is emotional fluidity. Learning to tolerate your emotions – your reality.
You cannot run from reality indefinitely. A major part of our holistic addiction treatment includes acknowledging, confronting and experiencing reality. In facing reality and being accepting of what is and experiencing or re-experiencing emotionally what was hurtfully done to you in the past or what you’ve hurtfully done to others.
The reason we tend to deny our emotions is because of our programming. We grew up having certain judgments about emotions. We have false ideas about emotions, for example, happy is good, but anger is bad, and sadness is horrible and fear is something you really want to stay away from, etc.
The Ability to Feel Feelings
What we want to cultivate during your recovery is the ability to feel your emotions fully in your body and still perceive safety. This is very much a skill that will be garnered by our expert CBR therapists in this method by them doing experiential therapies with you. One of the important abilities we want you to master and take with you when you leave the program is unwavering confidence in your ability to navigate any strong emotion that may arise at a given moment or brought on by a certain interaction, circumstances, etc.
We can probably agree that in theory this makes sense and that when we read this we can agree to the logic of it, but what we do in treatment is we actually create therapeutic emotional moments together with you in our experiential engagement therapies so that you can venture beyond the mere cognitive understanding of the concept. We guide you to practice experiencing ‘true safety’ and facing your emotions head-on and to allow your emotions to serve as a treasure map to your belief system that is really behind the feeling you’re having.
The ability to feel feelings to experience feelings and emotions viscerally in the physical body. And to use that body experience as knowledge to inform you of the beliefs or programming that is involved with the emotion and particular scenario the emotion is associated with.
What is Emotional Fluidity?
At The Exclusive Addiction Treatment Center we teach that you can either be fluid with your emotions or you can attempt to deny your feelings. The best way to describe emotional fluidity is to think of a small child. You may have noticed when you observe small children, how easily they flow from one emotional state to the next. A child will go from being mad, to being glad, to being sad, to being afraid in a very short period of time, because children have no judgement about emotions whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. They simply flow through the emotional experiences. The judgments are learned from adults.
How Do We Teach Emotional Fluidity?
First step: we teach you how to feel feelings and to stop running away from reality. When it rains and the weather is not to your liking, getting upset about it is not going to make it change. The same is true for emotions. Getting upset about the emotions that arise and trying to change them or avoid them doesn’t help you. Instead we will teach you to treat emotions with openness and to experience them without fear. We will coach you in a particular method of breathing and identifying feelings in your body.
Second step: we teach you to follow your feelings back to your beliefs – your programming. This is the key to making your reality tolerable so you can take the next step to build a life worth living.
Why Do We Need to be Emotionally Fluid?
It is ESSENTIAL TO BE EMOTIONALLY FLUID so that you don’t deny your feelings, but instead start accessing the wealth of information available to understand yourself and guide your actions.
Avoiding your emotions is another ‘false safety’ like avoiding shame. ‘True safety’ is experiencing your feelings in your body and getting valuable information to explain your belief systems and automatic programming that is arising in the present moment. And this is where real change can happen. Being accepting of and participating in your emotional experiences and through this you will gain deep understanding so you can consciously choose to change the story, belief and programming you’re operating from.
Acquiring the skill to use your emotions to tell you what you believe is kind of a shortcut tool to get to your beliefs quicker; in contrast to spending a lot of time reflecting on your thinking.
What we teach you is that if you want to change your thinking, you have to develop awareness and consciousness of your feelings and emotions.
Emotional Fluidity and Substance Abuse Triggers
Substance abuse is often a coping mechanism for processing strong emotions. Stress, anxiety, fear, depression, anger and other emotions can trigger recovering addicts. We know that relapse is common and actually a normal part of the process for recovering addicts. Teaching you the skill of emotional fluidity will support you tremendously when anxiety (fight-or-flight) arises in your body and empower you when faced with uncomfortable feelings. You will learn to give voice to your feelings instead of denying them. Emotional fluidity will be an invaluable tool for relapse prevention.
We are not seeking to change your emotions, because shame is seeking change. Shame insist that you be different than you are, that you experience a different emotion than the ones you’re having.
We teach you to honor your emotions and to honor the full experience of it. We teach you to be congruent with your experience and have your emotions lead you back to the belief that you’re operating from that’s linked to the emotion you’re having.